Wednesday, January 24, 2018
No real precedent for a peerage
I have lost count at the number of questions, tweets, and comments about the possibility that Jack Christopher Stamp Brooksbank will receive a peerage when he marries Princess Eugenie of York later this year.
He will not receive a peerage. There is no real precedent for Mr. Brooksbank to receive a peerage on his wedding day.
The only male spouse to receive a peerage on the occasion of his marriage to a British princess was Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten (né HRH Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark.) George VI created Philip Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich with the style of Royal Highness on November 19, 1947, one day before Philip married Princess Elizabeth, the heiress presumptive to the British throne.
The next British princess to marry was Princess Margaret, who wed Mr. Antony Armstrong-Jones on May 6, 1960. Tony entered Westminster Abbey as a Mister ... and came out of the Abbey as a Mister. He did not receive a peerage when he married Princess Margaret. The princess did not use her husband's surname. She remained styled as HRH The Princess Margaret and not HRH The Princess Margaret, Mrs. Armstrong-Jones.
It was not until October 3, 1961that Antony Armstrong-Jones was created Earl of Snowdon and Viscount Linley of Nymans. One of the reasons that he chose to accept the peerage was "for the sake of his son," according to Anne de Courcy, the author of Snowdon, a biography of the late earl. Although his child was unlikely to succeed to the throne, the new earl believed that "if it were a boy it was then close in line to the throne -- and would it have done to have a former Mr. Jones as king?"
Princess Margaret gave birth to a son, David (named for the Queen Mother's favorite brother, the Hon. David Bowes-Lyon, who had died a few months earlier), who was styled as Viscount Linley. The Princess's title also changed: HRH The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon.
Some years later, Princess Margaret told biographer Christopher Warwick that she had chosen to not use her married name as a part of her title because "I didn't want people to think I was a snob, taking a double-barrelled name."
After the Queen's first cousin, HRH Princess Alexandra married the Hon. Angus Ogilvy, younger son of the Earl of Airlie in April 1963, the Queen approached Alexandra and Angus with the offer of a peerage. With a bit of humor, the Evening Standard offered Lord Ben Nevis or Count Killiecrankie as possible peerages for Angus, the son of a Scots peer.
Alexandra and Angus were adamant. No peerage. "I don't see why I should get a peerage just because I've married a Princess," the Hon. Angus Ogilvy was quoted in a profile of Royal Consorts by Anthony Holden in the Sunday Express (August 7, 1983.)
One can only assume how Alexandra's mother, Princess Marina reacted to the decision to decline a peerage. She had "contemplated" Angus' position after his marriage to her daughter. Would he receive a dukedom like her cousin Prince Philip or an earldom that had been bestowed on Princess Margaret's husband? If declining a peerage was bad enough, imagine Marina's reaction to Alexandra's decision to be styled as HRH Princess Alexandra, the Hon. Mrs. Ogilvy. Alexandra was the first to use Mrs as a part of her title. Princess Anne was known as HRH The Princess Anne, Mrs Mark Phillips until she was created the Princess Royal.
The Queen bestowed the KCVO (Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order) on Angus on December 31, 1988. His style changed to the Hon. Sir Angus Ogilvy, KCVO, and Princess Alexandra's style became HRH Princess Alexandra, the Hon. Lady Ogilvy.
Queen Elizabeth II did ask her daughter, Princess Anne, and her future son-in-law, Mark Phillips, about accepting an earldom. The answer was no. Princess Anne, who was named Princess Royal in 1988, expected that her children would need to find their own way in the world and their careers could be hindered by a peerage or a courtesy title. [In fairness, Princess Margaret's son, David, parlayed his courtesy title into a successful design business, Linley.]
In a 1988 profile by the Daily Express' Compton Miller, Angus Ogilvy acknowledged that he regretted his decision to decline the offer of a peerage.
Angus told a friend: "I should have accepted the Queen's offer of a peerage. My not doing so created an unfortunate precedent which Mark Phillips used when he married Princess Anne 10 years later.
"It's clearly absurd that the Queen's eldest grandchildren, Peter and Zara Phillips, have no title, while, for instance, the Duke of York's children will have."
The Duke of York has two daughters, HRH Princess Beatrice and HRH Princess Eugenie. His children are royal because of George V's 1917 Letters Patent. Children of the Sovereign and grandchildren of the Sovereign in the MALE line are HRH and Princes and Princesses of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Letters Patent included the HRH and the title Prince for the eldest son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales. Several months before the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to Prince the Queen issued a new Letters Patent that gave the HRH and the title Prince or Princess to the all of the children of the Duke of Cambridge.
This Letters Patent was largely in response to the new Succession law allowing for the eldest child, regardless of sex, as the heir apparent. If the Duke and Duchess' first child had been a girl, she would have been styled as the daughter of a Duke. Lady Charlotte Windsor and her younger brother, Prince George would have had the royal title.
When Charles succeeds to the throne, all of the Cambridge children would become royal highnesses and princes and princesses.
Digressing here. Back to Princess Eugenie. She is not going to renounce her own title and Jack Brooksbank will not be given a peerage. She does not have to use his surname as a part of her title. She can remain HRH Princess Eugenie without adding Mrs. Brooksbank.
The York Princesses do not have official royal duties. They have their own charities and patronages, but their engagements are not included in the Court Circular or in the charity database on the British Monarchy's official website. Beatrice and Eugenie are the only two adult royals who do not have their own profiles on the website. They are included in their father's profile.
The Duke of York recently offered the final word on titles: “It is a complete fabrication to suggest I have asked for any future husbands of the Princesses to have titles."